For years now, the population of bees has been falling at a worrisome rate. It is even more alarming that bees have been placed on the endangered species list. Scientists have attributed this decline to various factors. The most significant reason however is the increased use of pesticides by homeowners. If you have a passion for gardening and especially for lawns, this article is for you. Read on to learn all about the effects of lawn pesticides on bees.
Are Bees attracted to Pesticides?
According to researchers, bees are attracted to nectar-containing pesticides. Just like humans, bees have this addiction to nicotine-like pesticides. And as such, this increases their chances of consuming high levels of this substance that harm their population.
Previous studies have shown that bees cannot taste the most commonly used neonicotinoid pesticides thus placing their safety at an even great danger. Bees are hooked to food containing pesticides unlike o their safe pure nectar.
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Do Lawn Pesticides Kill Bees?
Yes, lawn pesticides greatly contribute to the dying population of bees. In specific, these pesticides affect the reproductive abilities of the bees thus reducing the population of the entire colonies. The pesticides are slow killers, they detriment the bees’ reproductive rates over a long period.
Bees are some of the most common pollinators in our gardens. As such, they bring amazing amounts of growth and the lawn owner needs to encourage these small garden friends. But here is the problem; most lawn owners do not know how pesticides harm the bees’ population and may end up killing them unknowingly.
How Do Bees React to Pesticides?
Just like we’ve said, bees are vital in our garden since they aid pollination. In their search for nectar, they move pollen grains from the anthers to the stigmas leading to pollination. When you use lawn pesticides, you endanger the bees.
Lawn pesticides contain carcinogens. These are substances linked with the hormonal systems and have negative implications for humans including liver and kidney damage as well as causing birth defects. That is for humans, now imagine what carcinogens will do to a small bee!
Lawn pesticides are used over large portions of the yard. Whether your lawn is infested with pests, mushrooms, or weeds, there are various pesticides to help you in battling these. Unfortunately, the pesticide cannot differentiate the harmful pests and the beneficial bees, can it? Thus, bees fall into this target when they pollinate your yard plants.
Naturally, pesticides are known to destroy even an entire colony of bees. Some pesticides are so toxic that they cause immediate death to the bees which come in contact with them. In addition, pesticides slowly damage the reproductive systems of the bees thus reducing their reproductive rates.
When bees land on a lawn that has been treated with pesticide, these chemical substances can also damage the bee’s central nervous system. This damages their thinking and memory capabilities. Upon the onset of the poisoning effects, the bees struggle their way back to their homes – hives where the entire colony is. This only diversifies the negative effect of pesticides. You can imagine if bees have residue left from the treated lawn and carry it back to their hives.
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What Pesticides Are Most Harmful to Bees?
The most harmful pesticides to bees are neonicotinoid pesticides. In particular, these pesticides are used not only in lawns but also in agricultural and farming regions. Neonicotinoid pesticides are generally a type of insecticide that contains traces of nicotine. When sprayed, the nicotine traces are absorbed by the lawn and transferred throughout the grass system.
The chemicals absorbed by the lawn, affect the pollen and nectar of the grass. This is very toxic to bees when they come pollinating. What’s even worse, some of these chemical compounds widely applied on lawns are strong enough to remain in the soil for a very long time. This can potentially increase the damage to bees over and over the blooming seasons
What’s more, floral residues on the surface of the lawn such as the thatch can remain toxic to the bees. To be specific, neonicotinoids contain lethal chemical compounds including Clothianidin, thiamethoxam, dinotefuran, and imidacloprid.
When bees ingest these products, they experience problems like reduced taste sensitivity, slower learning of tasks, and flying difficulty. All these contribute to low production rates and reduced colonies.
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Pesticides You Should Not Use to Save Bees
Some pesticides are lethal to the bees and should never be sprayed on lawn areas where the bees are most likely to feed. They are simply not safe for the pollinators and especially our beneficial invertebrates – bees.
Keep in mind that neonicotinoids are to be avoided if at all you care about the bees on your lawn. Apart from that, other pesticides contain other chemical branches of neonicotinoids. Here is a list of the pesticides you should never use on bees:
- Copper Sulphate
- Insecticidal Soap or oil
- Ortho Bug
- Surrender Brand
Ways to Keep Bees Safe While Using Pesticides
Luckily, some pesticides can be used to safely fight lawn pests without killing the bees. Yes! These are bee-friendly and they help battle the pests from your lawn without harming the bees. That means that if you have pest problems in your garden, there are safe pesticides to use. On the other hand, you need to follow the following protocol:
- Avoid Spraying the Hives Directly
When applying pesticides to your lawn, don’t spray the hives directly. Any pesticide applicator appliance that comes in contact with the bees may affect their reproductive rates.
- Read The Pesticide label carefully
It’s important to read all pesticide package labels and to precisely follow the instruction given. Avoid pesticides with warnings like “highly toxic” and “prolonged residual toxicity.”
- Avoid Hitting Flying Bees
Do not spray directly at a flying bee. To be specific, the weight of the pesticide drops on their wings inhibits flight.
- In case of Any Query, Contact the Relevant Industry Workers
Before spraying your lawn with a toxic pesticide, you should notify the agricultural commissioner in your area. After this, nearby beekeepers will be notified to protect their hives.
There are other options that you can use in your battle against pests while protecting your bees simultaneously, these include:
- Hand-picking bugs from your lawn
- Using Bug traps
- Removing weeds from your lawn
- Practicing crop rotation
Pesticides affect the population of bees directly since they specifically target their feeding grounds. Fueled by their passion for lawn care and maintenance, lawn owners should practice ways to keep bees safe while using pesticides. The hunt for a perfect lawn takes more than just spraying pesticides.